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Occupational Competency Assessment

The Pennsylvania Department of Education, through the Bureau of Vocational-Technical Education, has authorized The Pennsylvania State University to administer the Occupational Competency Assessment (OCA) examination for persons who desire to teach shop/laboratory subjects on a vocational basis. Satisfactory completion of the OCA is one of the legal requirements for issuing a vocational teaching certificate in Pennsylvania.

Testing Dates

All written exams for Spring 2021, Summer 2021 and Fall 2021 will be held online with remote proctoring.

For Spring 2021, all application materials must be received no later than March 26th. This is the DEADLINE for the spring testing cycle.

For Summer 2021, all application materials must be received no later than June 18th. This is the DEADLINE for the summer testing cycle.

For Fall 2021, all application materials must be recieved no later than Oct 15th. This is the DEADLINE for the fall testing cycle.

Please send your questions about OCA testing to: Patricia Reish at

Performance exams will be scheduled as schools open and proctors are available. You will be notified individually, so please check your emails.

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

To be eligible for the program the candidate must submit the following documentation to be reviewed by the testing center.

  1. Education: Must be a graduate of a secondary school or possess equivalent education credentials.
  2. Work Experience: Documentation that verifies "a minimum of four years (8,000hrs) wage earning experience WITHIN THE LAST 10 YEARS in addition to the learning period in the occupation to be taught.   ***** NOTE:  Work experience MUST be verified within a ten-year period.*****
  3. Credentials: Must submit a complete personnel file of required credentials by the announced deadline.

What are the Employment Experience Guidelines and Requirements?

Employment experience guidelines and requirements are:

  1. A minimum of four years wage earning work experience beyond the learning period in an occupation directly related to the occupation to be taught.

  2. Comprehensive experience to include a major coverage of the skills of the occupation, not a narrow sampling of a few skills.

  3. Military employment or service beyond the training period directly related to the specific occupation.

  4. State professional licensure or selected national certification in the occupation.

What is the Learning Period?

You must have completed a learning period in the occupation you intend to teach. Work Experience as it applies to the OCA is defined as:

  1. Worker in a wage earning experience as an apprentice and/or student.

  2. Student in a vocational school, technical institute or college.

  3. Student in a cooperative vocational education program.

  4. Student in a vocational teacher education program which includes specialized or technical courses directly related to the occupation.

  5. Student in an associate degree program, in the occupation field.

  6. Graduate of an approved four (4) year college curriculum when the major field of study is directly related to the occupational field.

  7. Military training or instruction directly related to the occupation.

Employment Experience Considerations

  1. The employment experience should have been completed within a ten-year period immediately prior to successful completion of the OCA examination.
  2. Part-time work experience will be evaluated on the basis of two thousand (2000) clock-hours as equivalent to one (1) calendar year.
  3. For occupations requiring a state professional license or selected national certification, such as license or certification when issued by an accredited state or national association, will be accepted in lieu of the competency examination, but not in lieu of the Occupational Competency Assessment Program, which includes evaluation of wage earning experience beyond the learning period, the validating of licenses, and high school graduation or equivalent.
  4. Work experience used in verifying occupational experience in one occupation may also be used to verify occupational experience in another closely related occupation.

Occupational Experience

Occupational experience is required in each of the major occupational areas combined to form a cluster vocational program.

Teaching Experience

Teaching experience or supervisory experience in the occupational area cannot be counted toward meeting the work experience requirement.